Laura Ashley ousts Iverson as recovery fails

Anne Iverson, Laura Ashley’s high-profile group chief executive, has been ousted after the board decided her recovery programme had failed.

Iverson has been group chief executive since 1995, and she will be replaced immediately by David Hoare, whom she brought in as chief operating officer in September this year. He will be the fourth chief executive of the company since 1993.

In addition to Iverson, the company’s group finance director James Walsh will also leave, though not immediately. Walsh was group finance director and Laura Ashley is seeking a replacement for him.

Iverson, whose salary exceeded 1m, embarked on a cost-cutting campaign soon after her appointment. She slashed 200 management positions, closed two factories and increased the amount of manufacturing done in Asia. She also stepped up efficiency by introducing a hi-tech computer system.

Her efforts failed and the company reported a 4.5m loss for the first half of 1997 in September, and axed Iverson’s US expansion plans.

Stephen Cox, Laura Ashley’s company secretary, says the decision was made because Iverson and Walsh were “unable to sustain the recovery programme”.

In October, marketing director Patricia Manning left without a job to go to. She was replaced by Kevin Rogers, hired from Dunkin Donuts.

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